The season 2 finale of The Layover with Anthony Bourdain first aired on the Travel Channel February 4.
My, what a sunny day it is in Seattle. Followed, of course, by some rainy footage. “Let it be resolved here, the word ‘grunge’ will never again be mentioned,” Tony intones, as we get a shot of stereotypically grungy twentysomethings cavorting on Capitol Hill.
So here’s the basic format of The Layover: Footage of Tony doing, eating, drinking, or making fun of something is interspersed with his recommendations of other places to go. As well as random observations and recommendations from Seattleites he encounters along the way (including Renee Erickson, Matt Dillon, Jim Drohman, the Brothers Canlis, Calf and Kid’s Shari LaVigne, and Nook owners Alex Green and Aki Woodward). And whew, he covers a lot of ground.
Since Seattleites care about the environment, Tony is rolling in a loaded Tesla. It’s all electric, gets 300 miles on the road, and costs about $100,000. He’s very impressed with the amenities, particularly the big screen: “I could watch porn while I’m driving.”
The TV host likes to stay at the Edgewater when he’s in town. But he also gives a plug to Inn at the Market up the hill. Hey, we have already seen more Seattle footage than the entire season of Top Chef!
Walking along the waterfront, Tony notes that the rest of the country is broiling (it’s July) and yet in Seattle it’s temperate enough to sport a sweatshirt. Granted his sleeves are pushed up. The Cutter’s sign is in the background. He makes wise about the name: “After you work at Hooter’s for two years, you hate yourself so much, you move over to Cutter’s.”
His first stop is a fried egg sandwich with Dungeness crab and avocado at Seatown. “This is Seattle in an English muffin.” But he also gives some love to Nook in the University District. Tony says it’s “described as a temple of biscuit worship.” Hey, that sounds familiar…oh, right! That would be a quote from our breakfast issue. Aww, thanks for reading, Layover research department!
After a brief stop at Pike Place Market (“well-trod ground, but still worth visiting,”), Tony's at Melrose Market, eating mortadella at Rain Shadow Meats and downing samples of Dinah and other wares from Calf and Kid’s Shari LaVigne. Tony first started coming to Seattle around 2000, “It was Brooklyn before Brooklyn,” which is code for “lots of young hipster/forager/cheesemakers.”
Motoring around in his Tesla, Tony for some reason thinks the traffic is worse than LA. A guy pulls up next to him on a scooter to mock his ride as “a family car for the 1 percent.” Tony gives some sort of self-deprecating answer about mileage, and the dude retorts that his scooter gets 90 miles to the gallon, then zooms off. Congratulations, Tony—you encountered an official sanctimonious Seattle, um, duckhead.
He’s on his way to Wallingford, a neighborhood apparently “known for sidewalk cafes,” to go on a whoopee cushion and pickle-shaped bandage buying spree at Archie McPhee’s. That Tesla must really hold a charge, because next he zags over to Easy Street Records in West Seattle.
I should make fun of the fact that every freaking visiting food personality in the universe goes to Walrus and the Carpenter. But really, who can blame them? Plus Tony brought Tom Douglas, who is rocking a summery madras shirt. Over some freshly shucked Barron Points and Baywater Sweets, T-Doug expounds the joy of Seattle’s seafood bounty. “You can’t [frick] these up!” he exclaims. There is something about Tom Douglas getting bleeped for language (on a Tony Bourdain show, no less) that is really endearing.
Tony takes a narrative side trip over to Le Pichet, which he calls a “superbly well-executed old-school French bistro.” Then we’re back at Walrus, just in time to see Tom Douglas scold him for not liking Dave Matthews. “It’s un-American!”
Next up: a Seattle Seaplane ride. That sweatshirt is now knotted jauntily around Tony’s shoulders. He refuses to ooh and aah over a certain iconic spire he dismissively refers to as the “Space Prong.”
In an interstitial about water travel, Matt Dillon explains the ferry system, the owners of Nook talk Bainbridge, and Jim Drohman and Renee Erickson like taking the water taxi to West Seattle. Drohman gives some love to Salty’s.
Renee Erickson and Matt Dillon clean up real nice for dinner with Tony at Canlis, “a stunningly beautiful example of unironic retro glamor.” Except…he calls Jason Franey “Jeff.” BOOOOOOOO!!!!! Good thing Franey runs the kitchen, because superiority and threat of firing is perhaps the only way to prevent the entire staff from calling him Jeff for all eternity. Seriously, though: That's really lame.
Tony orders some Pappy Van Winkle, Erickson goes for Champagne and Dillon requests a gin martini. Then, over artichoke tortellini and Iberico pork cheek and the famous Canlis duck, Tony gets down to the business of talking about all the serial killers that hail from the Northwest. “Maybe it’s the weather?” Renee offers. Oh, and Tony also recommends Sitka and Spruce, which he calls “a forager’s wet dream.” Or Quinn’s, for the burger or a wild boar sloppy joe. It’s nice to see a tap handle of Silver City’s Ziggy Zoggy get some screen time.
Various people recommend places to see a show. Brian Canlis laments that the Crocodile isn’t as dirty as it used to be. Side note: The interstitials of the Brothers Canlis are shot in front of the copper curtain in the southwest dining room and the camera angle makes them look like they are appearing on a really fancy magic show. Hopefully Mark will saw Brian in half later.
Dinner concluded, it’s off to Rob Roy, where Dillon sings the praises of chartreuse. He likes his neat, and just about every day. Tony wonders if he should go down the street to the Five Point instead. Or maybe Unicorn, though he’s wary of the ironically named drinks.
Meanwhile, back at Matt Dillon’s Academy of Chartreuse Appreciation, bar manager Zach Augustin pours Tony a glass, and he admits that he finds the drink overly herbaceous and challenging. He’s off to bed (oh, Tony, you have grown up) but leaves us with some “late-night drunk-ass hangover food” from Comet Dogs and Shari LaVigne, wondering why the hell cream cheese is the defining ingredient in a Seattle hot dog (or sushi roll)?
The next morning at the Edgewater, Tony ponders the infamous (and gross) “mudshark incident” that happened here. There is a lot of bleeping. He concludes, “If I were not deep into my research into this legendary tale of piscatorial-genital contact, I might have gone to Tilikum Place Café.” I seriously hope they blurb that testimonial for any and all brochures, websites, and business cards. Instead he eats smoked salmon and talks about how awesome Salumi is.
Now the Tesla cruises Seattle Center so Tony can openly declare his contempt for the Space Needle: “It serves no purpose at all…a blight on the city.” He feels the same way about EMP. He would much rather be up in Ballard, eating at Paseo.
Wait, so Tony has 48 hours to spend in Seattle and one of them is on the underground tour? This must be the naughtier version, because the one I went on as a sixth-grade field trip definitely didn’t mention prostitutes, or make favorable comparisons between laudanum and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Gah, must we visit the gum wall. Tony, can you please hang out with Macklemore now?
Instead, the Tesla’s headed south to Rainier BBQ. Props to Tony for passing on the novelty animal meat and focusing on some really good-looking dishes with less shock value.
The night’s final stop is Shorty’s, where he orders a pint of Manny’s. In interstitial interviews, T-Doug professes his love for both the grit and the clowns here. Matt Dillon tells the camera he would like to say something about Shorty’s, but he usually doesn’t remember the nights that he spends here.
“If grit is your thing,” narrates Tony, he recommends Sun Liquor. Hrmm, I wouldn’t really call any place that makes its own juices and has a sibling distillery “gritty.” Though I get his opium den comparison. Tony also plugs Canon, which has the “best whiskey and bourbon menu west of the Mississippi.” (Or in the country?).
The next morning, Tony sits at the Edgewater, randomly sporting uber-preppy khakis and a blue button-down and grousing about coffee. “There is no culture around coffee,”he says. “Coffee is a beverage, not a culture.” He blames the show Friends, though somehow it’s probably Dave Matthews’s fault, too.
Time to head to the airport, where he mentions Anthony’s and Ivar’s. His parting words: “There’s an independent spirit in this town…always has been.”
Coolest Seattle moment: Um, I would like to go to Canlis and Rob Roy with Matt Dillon and Renee Erickson.
Lamest Seattle moment: Jeff who works at Canlis.